I bought this book for my kids, but before they got to it, I picked it up out of curiosity. I was HOOKED! It is action-packed, funny, and features a terrific, thoughtful hero, a smart, brave heroine, and a whole lot of pirates. The story is fast-paced and exciting. At the same time the characters are so well-described, and the dialogue is so well-written,that I had no trouble imagining what each person looked and sounded like. Rodkey has conjured up a fascinating, lively, colorful world of characters.
The hero, Egg, is a courageous, intrepid, interesting kid who has real self-knowledge and thinks through his actions toward others and tries to do the honorable thing under almost-impossible circumstances. I also like that Egg, having been abused all his life, has compassion for the underdog and the downtrodden. He sees through the pretensions of the powerful and empathizes with those who are exploited.
I LOVE the heroine, Millicent. There are so few good, strong, female characters in children's literature, who aren't princesses or cute or looking to be rescued, while Millicent is intelligent and willing to fight for herself and for those she cares about.
This book is excellent reading for kids 9 and up, and for precocious younger readers, but adults will devour it, too. Note: there is some violence of the man-thrown-overboard, stabbed-by-a-pirate, or pushed-off-a-mountain kind, but it is less frightening than anything in Harry Potter. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Buy it for your kids, your kids' friends (it's a great birthday gift), nieces and nephews, grandkids, etc. Just don't be surprised if you have to harass them to STOP READING it, because it's impossible to put down! I can't wait for Book Two!